Latin Recording Academy Announces 2013 Special Awards Honorees

Music luminaries to receive Lifetime Achievement and Trustees Awards at Nov. 20 ceremony
  • Oscar D'León
  • Juan Formell
  • Roberto Menescal
  • Totó La Momposina
  • Palito Ortega
  • Miguel Ríos
  • Eddie Palmieri
  • Mario Kreutzberger
  • Pedro Ramírez Velázquez
September 03, 2013 -- 5:55 am PDT

The Latin Recording Academy today announced the recipients of its Lifetime Achievement Award and Trustees Award. Oscar D'León, Juan Formell, Roberto Menescal, Totó La Momposina, Palito Ortega, Eddie Palmieri, and Miguel Ríos will be honored with The Latin Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Mario Kreutzberger aka "Don Francisco" and Pedro Ramírez Velázquez are the recipients of the prestigious Trustees Award.

These honorees will be acknowledged at a special invitation-only ceremony on Nov. 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas as part of the weeklong 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards celebration.

"It is with great pride that we announce this year's honorees, who not only epitomize the essence of true masters of their craft and genre, but represent the global musical spectrum that encompasses the Latin community at large," said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. "We continue to be humbled by their contributions to the musical legacy of the Latin world, and celebrate and honor their accomplishments and the talent that they have graciously shared with us over the decades, which will continue to endure for generations to come."

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a Special Award presented by vote of The Latin Recording Academy's Board of Trustees to performers who have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording during their careers.

Born with rhythm in his blood, renowned Venezuelan singer/musician Oscar D'León is known as "El León de la Salsa" ("The Lion of Salsa"). At a young age, D'León expressed a love for music by vocally improvising harmonies and using surface tops to mimic percussion rhythms. A self-taught bass player, D'León gained notoriety for his ability to entertain by dancing, singing and playing instruments as he performed. In 1972 he formed the group Dimensión Latina with whom he released one of his most famous hits, "Llorarás." In 1976 he left the group to form two more orchestras, La Salsa Mayor and La Crítica. In the '80s D'León's solo career rose to international acclaim as he began touring Europe and became an overnight phenomenon. Throughout his 30-year career, he has performed in Japan, Australia, Cuba, Turkey, Canada, and Latin America. Today, D'León continues to record music and is a philanthropist.

Renowned Cuban musician, bassist, composer, and arranger Juan Formell is the true definition of a musical innovator. His studies began under the tutelage of his father, musician and composer Francisco Formell. As his talent grew, Juan Formell began working with some of the most important artists in Havana, which led to successful compositions with the Carlos Faxas Orchestra such as "Ya Lo Se," "De Mis Recuerdos" and "Lo Material." Formell's work with the Elio Reve Orchestra heralded his ingenuity as a pioneer in the sound of popular music. He introduced electronic instrumentation into the field of Cuban music, changing its form, style and structure and resulting in the creation of "La Nueva Trova Cubana" ("the new Cuban ballad"). In 1969 Formell created Los Van Van — one of the most influential bands in the history of Cuban pop music — and later earned a GRAMMY Award in 1999 for Best Salsa Performance. Formell has authored more than 250 musical works, composed for theater, television and film, and toured the globe while continuing to experiment and create new rhythms and sounds.

With a career spanning more than 50 years as a composer, producer, guitarist, and vocalist, Roberto Menescal is considered one of the founders of bossa nova. Born in Brazil and beginning his professional career at age 20, Menescal's creative songwriting and rhythmic use of the guitar has led him to create some of the country's most beloved and classic songs, including "O Barquinho," "Você," "Nós E O Mar," "Bye Bye Brasil," and "Rio," among others. Aside from forming the basis for the bossa nova sound, Menescal has performed in a variety of Latin music mediums, including Brazilian pop and samba. He has composed two soundtracks for film and four biographical books have been written about his life's work and contributions. He continues to perform internationally, record music and participate in workshop programs throughout Brazil.

Hailing from Colombia, singer and performer Totó La Momposina's music is inspired by a rich cultural mix of African, Native Indian and Spanish history that embraces her native land and is represented in the Latin American rhythms of her music. Touring and performing at a young age in coastal villages, her deep love for her roots and musical traditions developed into her signature style. While studying music history, choreography and rhythm at Paris' Sorbonne University, La Momposina also began touring in Europe, presenting for the first time the indigenous music of her homeland to the outside world. Tours in Latin America and the Caribbean followed and La Momposina subsequently relocated to Cuba, where she studied the bolero. She continues to tour internationally and share the colorful history, native melodies and rhythmic forms of Colombia.  

Argentine singer, actor, producer, and former politician Palito Ortega is an integral part of the rock and roll pantheon of artists whose innovations were credited with the nueva ola (new wave) of music in the '60s. Inspired by Elvis Presley, Ortega began performing with different bands, which eventually led to a solo career. Collaborating with songwriter Dino Ramos, Ortega found success with hits such as "Sabor A Nada," "Lo Mismo Que Usted" and "Vestida De Novia." His popularity earned him a starring role in the television ensemble "El Club Del Clan" and soon after a career in film. Within years of launching his career, he had recorded 27 albums, starred in 26 films and emerged as the definitive teen idol. After several decades of success in entertainment, he set his sights on politics, becoming the governor of the Tucumán Province in Argentina in 1991. Ortega continues to perform and remains active in recording music and collaborating with various artists.

GRAMMY- and Latin GRAMMY-winning pianist, bandleader and musician Eddie Palmieri has recorded nearly 40 albums throughout more than five decades. A first generation "Nuyorican," he is best known for combining jazz piano and instrumental solos with Latin rhythms. Inspired by his older brother, renowned pianist Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri formed the band Conjunto La Perfecta in 1961, led by singer Ismael Quintana. With his own influential style and sound, in 1975 Palmieri won his first GRAMMY for Best Latin Recording for Sun Of Latin Music, marking the first year the GRAMMY Awards recognized the Latin music genre.

Recognized as one of the pioneers of rock en Español, Spanish-born singer, composer, director, producer, and actor Miguel Ríos is a tour de force. His innumerable sold-out concerts and tours have resonated with rock music fans of all ages for more than 50 years. In 1970 he released "Himno De La Alegría" ("Hymn Of Joy"), one of his master works at the height of the symphonic rock movement that featured an extract of Beethoven's ninth symphony. The recording has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide and reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1982 Ríos released a live double album of his Rock & Rios concert, selling more than 450,000 copies in less than one year. The recording is regarded by music critics as one of the most important works of modern Spanish rock. Ríos has participated in numerous benefit concerts and received countless awards, distinctions and commendations throughout the Spanish peninsula.

The Trustees Award is a Special Award presented by vote of The Latin Recording Academy's Board of Trustees to individuals who have made significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording during their careers.

Television personality Mario Kreutzberger aka"Don Francisco" has been a staple of entertainment in Latin homes across the United States, Chile and Latin America for more than 50 years. Creating and hosting "Sábado Gigante" ("Giant Saturday") since 1962, the show has gone on to make television history and has served as a platform for developing and established artists to showcase their music to a large Spanish-speaking demographic. Guinness World Records declared "Sábado Gigante" the longest-running television variety show in the Americas uninterruptedly presented by its star host, and in 2012 the program celebrated its 50-year anniversary. Along with the variety show, Kreutzberger hosted the interview-based "Don Francisco Presenta" and the fundraising based "Teletón." Additionally, Kreutzberger is a respected jingle writer and has received numerous awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an honorary Emmy Award for being a "leader of Spanish-language television." In 2012 he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

At an early age, Mexican-born musician, composer and musical director Pedro Ramírez Velázquez was fascinated by the trumpet. After studying formally at the Escuela Libre de Música in Mexico City, he joined his father's musical troupe as a second trumpeter, unprecedented for mariachi bands in the late '40s. In 1954 at age 14, he was invited to join Pepe Villa's Mariachi México, a group that received critical acclaim for featuring two-trumpet orchestrations. Velázquez remained with the troupe through what critics consider the golden age of mariachi music and upon his departure in the '70s began arranging, directing and producing for some of the most legendary acts in Latin music history. He has collaborated with Angélica Maria, Leo Dan, Roberto Carlos, and Beatriz Adriana, among others, and has served as the exclusive musical director for both Vicente and Alejandro Fernández, which has garnered him three Latin GRAMMYs.

The 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards will be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will be broadcast live on the Univision Network on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

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